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Spring Cannot be Cancelled

David Hockney in Normandy - A SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

Mr Martin Gayford, David Hockney


David Hockney reflects upon life and art as he experiences lockdown in rural Normandy

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‘We have lost touch with nature, rather foolishly as we are a part of it, not outside it. This will in time be over and then what? What have we learned?... The only real things in life are food and love, in that order, just like [for] our little dog Ruby... and the source of art is love. I love life.'
David Hockney

On turning eighty, David Hockney sought out rustic tranquility for the first time: a place to watch the sunset and the change of the seasons; a place to live a life of simple pleasures, undisturbed and undistracted; a place to keep the madness of the world at bay. So when Covid-19 and lockdown struck, it made little difference to life at La Grande Cour, the centuries-old Normandy farmhouse where Hockney set up a studio a year before, in time to paint the arrival of spring. In fact, he relished the enforced isolation as an opportunity for even greater devotion to his art.

Spring Cannot be Cancelled is an uplifting manifesto that affirms art’s capacity to divert and inspire. It is based on a wealth of new conversations and correspondence between Hockney and the art critic Martin Gayford, his long-time friend and collaborator. Their exchanges are illustrated by a selection of Hockney’s new, unpublished Normandy drawings and paintings alongside works by van Gogh, Monet, Bruegel and others.

We see how Hockney is propelled ever forward by his infectious enthusiasms and sense of wonder. A lifelong contrarian, he has been in the public eye for sixty years, yet remains entirely unconcerned by the view of critics or even history. He is utterly absorbed by his four acres of northern France and by the themes that have fascinated him for decades: light, colour, space, perception, water, trees. He has much to teach us, not only about how to see … but about how to live.

A Sunday Times bestseller

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'Hockney and Gayford … make a good double act: Hockney’s questing vision, Gayford’s clear-eyed prose. They share an irrepressible interest in just about everything ... This book is not so much a celebration of spring as a springboard for ideas about art, space, time and light ... scholarly, thoughtful and provoking'
The Times

'Gloriously illustrated … It’s a book about many things – Hockney’s love of France and French painting, his reflections on many other artists among them. But at its heart is this octogenarian’s adoration of nature, his belief that art is rooted in love, and a restless gusto for life'
Andrew Marr, The Spectator

'Hockney and Gayford’s exchanges are infused with their deep knowledge of the history of art … This is a charming book, and ideal for lockdown because it teaches you to look harder at the things around you'
Lynn Barber, The Spectator

'Designed to underscore [Hockney’s] original message of hope, and to further explore how art can gladden and invigorate ... meanders amiably from Rembrandt, to the pleasure principle, andouillette sausages and, naturally, to spring'
Daily Telegraph

'Lavishly illustrated… Gayford is a thoughtfully attentive critic with a capacious frame of reference'

'A burst of springtime joy ... delightfully unfocused, a wide-ranging ramble through art, history, culture and food'
Daily Telegraph

'Peppered with his colourful work and insightful conversations with art critic Martin Gayford, this book shows that, though the pandemic cancelled many things, spring cannot be stopped – and neither can David Hockney'
Daily Mail

'A warm and candid peek into Hockney’s thought process and the friends’ relationship, visually peppered with hundreds of images... Overall the book acts as Hockney’s manifesto for how a reconnection with art and nature could get society through much of its tribulations'
It's Nice That

'A series of conversations punctuated with pictures that you can dip into as you please. There are fascinating discursions about studios, about line, about art outbidding photography, about colour – he’s interesting on the varieties of black, for instance. Gayford talks about Hockney turning up the colour dial in his works during his career; right now, it’s high volume'
Evening Standard

'Optimistic … demonstrate[s] the artist’s constant fascination with the world around him'
The Arts Society

'Beautifully written. Just the tonic for the lockdown blues'
Jessica Fahy, RTE Arena radio

'A highly personal and engaging insight into the latest stage of Hockney’s life and work'
The Art Newspaper

'What emerges from the writing, snippets and sketches is a manifesto of sorts: a paean to the promise of art and the capacity of nature to heal, renew and offer answers in difficult times… The subjects on every page burst forth like spring bulbs, covering everything from the sight of raindrops on a pond to the work of great artists and the rhythm of daily life'
Monocle Weekend

'Ranging across subjects, from colour and perspective, to sunsets, fame and the effects of aging, the book amounts in the end to something between a memoir and a collection of musings from a man who thinks deeply and widely, and communicates with ease. Whether he is talking about drawing, or Proust or Wagner, Gayford writes that it is “with such simplicity and ease that almost everything he says, journalistically speaking, is highly quotable'
The New European

'Hockney’s amanuensis provides the framework and armature for Hockney’s discussion of his own painting … In these trying times, Hockney, in recharging his own art in such persuasive ways, conveys somehow a belief in the power of hope and the inevitability of recovery'

'Lushly illustrated … the talk flows effortlessly. The conversations take in everything from Hockney’s fondness for tripe and cigarettes, and Van Gogh and Monet, to music and iPad pictures. Hockney is always interesting on art, possibly because he is both unusually thoughtful and exceptionally lucid, so the chats, seamlessly directed by Gayford, are full of fascinating detail about a range of painters rather than just this displaced Yorkshireman'
New Statesman

'Reveals – and this lies behind the pictures and their apparently effortless clarity – Hockney as the broad-ranging intellectual … When Hockney talks, for example, of his admiration for Ad Reinhardt’s blacks in the same breath as Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales and his own 1981 Metropolitan Opera designs for The Nightingale, you understand the Moon pictures as enchanted stage-sets informed by modern abstraction'
Financial Times

'Gayford records what the artist saw, thought, read, remembered, during lockdown in his French cottage, as reported by email and phone; their conversations read easily and optimistically, spanning nature, food, art, opera, fairy tales'
Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times

'My recommendation would be - because we all need some cheering up - that bright, colourful, informative and intriguing book Spring Cannot be Cancelled. It’s full of Hockney’s musings on art, as well as being gorgeous to look at'
Andrew Marr, The Art Newspaper

'The conversation between painter and critic with reference to his work and the work of other artists is always absorbing and invaluable for all admirers of his drawings and paintings'
Mature Times

'Far more than an accompaniment to the lovely exhibition at the Royal Academy in the summer, this is an engaging record of life and thought during Hockney’s lockdown year'
Financial Times

'Hockney’s palette is always vibrant with the glorious, acid promise of fresh new leaves. If you love his work, this set of uplifting ‘conversations’ between artist and critic-friend will rekindle your passion; if you are indifferent to the Hockney style, you will surely find yourself converted … A feast for eye, mind and soul'
Daily Mail

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 22.9 x 15.2 cm

Extent: 280 pp

Publication date: 25 March 2021

ISBN: 9780500094365

Contents List

1 An unexpected move
2 Studio work
3 La vie française: French life in a Bohemian style
4 Lines and time
5 A merry Christmas and an unexpected New Year
6 Locked down in paradise
7 A house for an artist and a painter’s garden
8 The sky, the sky!
9 Sumptuous blacks and subtler greens
10 Several smaller splashes
11 Everything flows
12 Rippling lines and musical spaces
13 Lost (and found) in translation
14 Picasso, Proust, and pictures
15 Being somewhere
16 Full moon in Normandy

About the Author

David Hockney is perhaps the most critically acclaimed artist of our age. He has produced work in almost every medium and has stretched the boundaries of all of them. His bestselling Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the lost techniques of the Old Masters is also published by Thames & Hudson, as are his previous books in partnership with Martin Gayford: A Bigger Message and A History of Pictures. Martin Gayford is art critic for the Spectator. His books include Modernists & Mavericks, Man with a Blue Scarf, A Bigger Message, Rendez-vous with Art (with Philippe de Montebello), A History of Pictures (with David Hockney), and, most recently, The Pursuit of Art, all published by Thames & Hudson.

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